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Old 05-13-2020, 11:55 AM   #1
New Member
Join Date: May 2020
Location: Colorado
Posts: 1
Hello! - General questions

Hi all!
Its been my dream to convert a bus and live in it since I was young. I just graduated with my interior architecture degree and I'm ready to start the plans.
I've done some basic research so far, and starting to lay out my floor plan. I have some general questions!
How much should I expect to spend, total, on a small bus, including the conversion with electrical, plumbing, materials, etc? I'm expecting to spend around $50k... could I lower that number? I'm planning on only having plumbing for the sink (compost toilet and no shower) and electrical for lighting and outlets.
How much should I expect to spend for an electrician to come in and wire the bus for me? I have a good feeling that I can manage everything else myself... but electrical I will definitely need help.
Did you come across any issues that you didn't expect? Do you have any tips for a first-timer?

Thank you all in advance, I'm excited to start this journey!

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Old 05-13-2020, 12:11 PM   #2
Bus Geek
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 6,401
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
You can spend as much as you want to. A bus can be like a boat. You can keep dumping money into it and it will never fill up. I have been on $2,000,000 buses.

On the other end, I have seen skoolies on the road with an investment of less than $10,000.

Level of finish, amenities and your ability to DIY will all make a big difference. Your ability to scrounge/shop will make a difference as well.

I expect to be around $25,000 to $30,000 into my bus by the time it is finished.
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Old 05-13-2020, 12:38 PM   #3
Bus Nut
Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: Wild Wild West
Posts: 691
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC RE
Engine: 8.3 Cummins MD3060
Rated Cap: 84
If you are just graduating college, and smart enough to get a good degree, then you should have no problem spending some quality time with YouTube and learning how to manage the electrical side of your build by yourself. The best part about that is that you will know EVERY aspect of your bus in case of future complications. If Joe-the-electrician did the work, you will have to find him if there is a problem. Electricity isn't scary, you just need to understand it. Finding the right bus for a good price is key to keeping the build cost down. I would also advise you find a wrecked or older RV to source a lot of parts from. I lucked into a sweet deal on the bus, and got my hands on an old motor home for parts. I think I will be able to finish with a very nice bus for about $10K dollars. If I spent $50K, it would be amazing!
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Old 05-13-2020, 12:53 PM   #4
Bus Geek
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 6,401
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
I agree with Jack, to a point.

You sound like a bright sort and between the knowledge that is shared here on Skoolie as well as YouTube you can learn many of the skills that you need.

One reservation.

If you screw up building cabinets or plumbing your shower it can be really inconvenient.

If you screw up installing electrical, you can wake up dead.

As a journeyman electrician I saw plentiful of really scary DIY. I also lost two cousins in a house fire caused by my uncles DIY clothes dryer plug.


if you DIY your electrical, at least have a qualified electrician check it out for you.
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Old 05-13-2020, 01:41 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 6,948
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE 300
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 65C-43A
$50K is a pretty huge budget for a skoolie, especially if you're not doing any kind of solar/battery setup.
Rusty 87 build thread
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